Mark Weber

The Final Decline of the West

By mid-century, the Western world is expected to represent only 12% of the world’s population and only around 30% of global output, down from 68% in 1950. We are entering a new historical cycle, in which there will be proportionally fewer Westerners, more Africans and Middle Easterners, and – with greater relevance economically and strategically – many more Asians.

PARIS – In 2040/2050, will demographers speak of “the white man’s loneliness” in the way historians once referred to “the white man’s burden” to describe the so-called “imperial responsibilities” of some European nations?

Demography is not an exact science. Countless dire predictions, from that of Malthus to that of the Club of Rome, have been proven wrong. But, according to a recent and very convincing essay published in the magazine Foreign Affairs , a dual demographic and economic trend is taking place that will result in spectacular shifts by the middle of this century. The Western world will represent only 12% of the world’s population, with Europeans reduced to 6%. (In 1913, a year before the outbreak of World War I, Europe was slightly more populated than China.) Economically, the West will account for around 30% of global output – a level that corresponds to Europe’s share in the eighteenth century and down from 68% in 1950.

What we are witnessing can be seen is a return to the past, with the West returning to its old place in the world before the start of China’s long process of historical decline at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The West’s long period of global dominance is ending, encouraged and accelerated by its own mistakes and irresponsible behavior. We are entering a new historical cycle, in which there will be proportionally fewer Westerners, more Africans and Middle Easterners, and – with greater relevance economically and strategically – many more Asians.

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